"How did it go?" Angelique asked as soon as Simon made it back down to the living room.
He sighed as he joined her on the couch. When he leaned against her, she closed her book and wrapped her arms around him.
"I felt like my father," he admitted in a hushed tone.
"You didn't abuse him," Angelique vehemently objected.
He sighed and shook his head with his eyes downcast.
"Simon, you did not abuse that boy. There is a difference between a little corporal punishment and abuse. I know we agreed on going without corporal punishment for our parenting style, but Mr. Hammond is right. Jacob's case is very unique. Wouldn't you agree?"
"You're right," he relented.
"I know I am," she said, pecking him on the cheek before continuing, "Now, no more beating yourself up. Alright?"
"Alright," he agreed.
"Good, now come help me with dinner," she said, taking his hand in hers and leading him to the kitchen.
"Jacob, it's time for dinner," Simon said as he gently pat the boy's back.
Jacob rolled over and rubbed at his eyes for a few moments before Simon lifted him over the wooden bars and laid him on the changing table.
It was a while before Jacob was awake enough that he was truly aware of his surroundings. He spent the time that it took Simon to change him persistently yawning and stretching.
"Are you up, or do you need your face washed?" Simon asked in a jovial tone.
Jacob widened his eyes. "I'm up!" he exclaimed.
Simon smirked. "Good, let's get dinner," he said, hoisting the toddler into his arms and carrying him downstairs.
The minute they got into the kitchen Jacob knew they were having saltfish for dinner. The unmistakable aroma of tomato sauce mixed with onions and peppers saturated the air. In response, his mouth watered, and his stomach growled so loudly that Simon commented, "We better get some grub into you right away."
Once Simon placed Jacob into the high chair, he turned to Angelique. "We need food STAT. His stomach is on its last reserves. My dear wife, he is moments away from spontaneous combustion," he joked in a light-hearted tone.
"No! We will not let that happen," she said, feigning concern. Grabbing the boy's plate and placing it on his tray, she continued, "Restore your reserves with this."
Jacob stifled a chuckle at the couple's dramatic performance. Even though he wasn't happy with the two of them, he did have a slight smirk on his face because it was that funny.
But he really was starving. So, he started on the white rice and saltfish and string beans as soon as the plate was put in front of him, and it didn't take him long to completely finish his food.
While Simon and Angelique finished their dinner, he slowly sipped his lemonade. He still felt a little tired. The nap from earlier didn't reinvigorate him at all, and it was probably because he had dreamt so vividly.
Once Simon was done with his food, he stood up and removed Jacob from the high chair and carried him to the living room next to the couch.
"Will you sit here while we clean up, or do you need to be in the playpen?" he asked the little boy.
"I'll sit," Jacob agreed.
"Good," Simon said, placing him next to a cushion and grabbing the remote to turn on the TV and change the channel to one playing a kid's show.
Jacob crossed his legs on the couch. For a few minutes, he did try to entertain himself with the mind-numbing cartoon playing on the screen, but he just couldn't force himself to suffer through it.
To him, there just was no point in watching a show trying to teach him letters and numbers like he didn't already know them. He would just change the channel, but Simon left the remote on a ledge above the TV that he couldn't reach.
He looked around the room and admired the framed portraits on the wall. There was a wedding photo of theirs hanging near the ledge above the TV. They looked so much younger, and the happiness was evident in their smiles. From their earlier banter, it was clear that the therapist couple was still just as happy together so many years later. He wondered how they did it and what was it that they had that so many other couples didn't.
When Simon's phone rang in the kitchen, his attention immediately shifted to discerning the content of the phone call. He stood up on the couch to peer over into the kitchen.
"Mr. Hammond, hello," he heard Simon say, and there was a short pause before he continued, "Jacob is doing well, no more headaches."
Jacob couldn't make out what the person on the other line was saying, but there was another longer pause before Simon said, "Yes, we are still looking forward to meeting with you."
From the living room, Jacob could see Simon ask Angelique a question even though he couldn't hear what he asked. When Angelique nodded her head in response, he told the person on the phone, "Yes, see you then," before hanging up the phone.
Now, Jacob was frightened. What if the two of them were that fed up with his behavior that they were willing to take him back to St. Ives where he would be regressed further? The repercussions would be catastrophic, and he couldn't let that happen.
He quickly slid off the couch, and crawled underneath it.
It was surprisingly clean down there, not that he would have minded. A hiding spot was a hiding spot, but he could assume that they must spend a lot of time sweeping and vacuuming because there wasn't a dust bunny in sight.
He laid under the couch thinking about how he got himself into the whole mess. He thought about how everything would have been so much simpler had he withheld his suicidal plans from his therapist. Looking back, he didn't even understand why he told him. There was no real point. He was sure that he didn't want the older man to stop him, but somehow it just didn't feel right to disappear without telling him. There was some inconceivable connection that stopped him.
A few minutes after he finished his rumination, he heard Simon walk into the living room.
"Jacob?" Simon frantically called out to him. After he received no response from the little boy, he called to his wife, "Angelique! Jacob's gone!"
She took a few minutes to observe the living room before calmly assuring him, "The doors are still latched, and all the windows are closed. He must still be inside. I think he's just hiding."
Jacob cursed mentally. There was a slight chance they might have moved outside to search for him which would have allowed him to get away while they were caught up doing that. He knew it was just a matter of time before they would find him, but the house was big enough that he figured it would take at least a little while. He decided he would enjoy the peaceful, quiet solitude while he could.
While Simon was searching the obvious hiding places downstairs, he called out to the little boy, "Jacob, it's bath time. Don't you want to be clean and fresh for bed?"
Jacob rolled his eyes, miffed that Simon would think he would go so far as to hide for fear of taking a stupid bath.
It was nearly fifteen minutes before Simon resorted to checking under the couch for the little boy. Jacob had seen his feet walk by a few times, and each time he was sure that the man would stoop down to check. When he finally did, he sighed the second he saw Jacob underneath the couch.
"I found him," he called to Angelique before turning back to Jacob and softly asking, "What are you doing down here?"
"Eh, just chilling," Jacob lied.
"Well that's a dusty place to chill," Simon commented, offering the little boy his hand to pull him from under the couch.
"It wasn't too bad," Jacob said, accepting the older man's hand.
"Well, if you want to play under the couch in the future, you have to ask for permission. Okay?"
"Sure," Jacob responded, while Simon turned him around to begin dusting his clothes off.
Angelique arrived downstairs just as Simon pat the boy on the back one last time.
"Where was he?" she asked, sounding exacerbated.
"Under the couch," Simon responded.
She strolled over and stooped down to give him a hug. "Don't scare us like that again. We thought something might have happened to you," Angelique scolded in a light tone.
"Make sure you wash his hair this evening," she instructed Simon, plucking a piece of lint out of his Afro.
"Gotcha," Simon said, taking Jacob upstairs.